MORT in CHINA, Comic Series, Issue 1 by Vali T. C. Morrison (Author), Sun Xing (Translator), Charlie Tian (Author) and Skyla Bai (Editor)

The authors have initiated a series that has all of the indications of becoming a charmingly amusing, yet very informative string of stories. Admittedly the opening couple of pages provide some momentary initial questions with respect to the anticipated series, but the reaction quickly dissipates as Mort begins to develop. We discover him to be a mild mannered agent for Final Destination which is an ‘afterlife soul collection agency’ that unfortunately after 500 years of work, still is considered to be only ‘2nd best’. To rectify the situation, they decide to ‘shake things up a little’ and Mort’s boss sends him to root out and correct the efficiency issues in their China branch office. Upon arrival, he quickly realises that he is totally unqualified to deal with the nuances and pitfalls of Chinese culture and his personal nightmare begins.

The Mort in China project has been initiated by ALBA, a small indie-comic studio based in Beijing and is the brain child of Vali Morrison, a much travelled English/ American war veteran and Macedonian born Katerina Morrison, both of whom are fluent in Mandarin. For this reader who still enjoys the Sunday newspaper ‘Comics’, the proposed series offers not only an amusing cartoon possibility, but a huge number of possibilities for learning more about China as well. As such, it could well prove to be immensely informative at this crucial time in our country’s history with the growing intensity of our interrelationship with this country especially with respect to the Korean situation. It projects the possibility of a most interesting and worthwhile development as we learn more about this sprawling nation and its people in a laid back manner as we follow Mort’s adventures and misadventures as he attempts to adjust.

5* For anticipated series development.

Spirit Runner

Spirit Runner, Published by Windsor Graphics is a fascinating story in e-book by Richard Ferguson

Ron Campbell is a 7-year old who wants to be a runner like his father who had been an Olympian. He is doing well until a devastating auto accident kills his immediate family and leaves him with mangled legs that physicians say may not even allow him to walk again. A kind, child oriented nurse sympathetically helps him through his somewhat extended hospital stay. Upon release, his grandfather, a wealthy rancher and former sheriff, assumes responsibility and bring him home to live with his daughter and her husband. They resent the child and are physically abusive because he provides an interference with their secret schemes to obtain the father’s money and land. Fortunately, a man who had stopped by for a time to earn money to continue his journey to California is a graduate rehabilitation therapist from his native Australia. He sees the boy and suggests to the grandfather that he can help him to walk but it would be best if he could monitor him on a 24-hour basis. Ron moves in with him and his therapy sessions begin and are aided by two friends, a young girl and slightly older boy from neighboring ranches. Ron gradually improves with his sessions but is plagued with mean tricks instigated by his aunt and uncle. From this point the story accelerates even more as through the years Ron’s legs strengthen and the aunt and uncle become more desperate and escalate their attacks even into attempts to cause his death and that of others because the grandfather considers changing his will in favor of Ron. The climax(s) actually are two. One describes the ultimate family situation finalization and the second concentrates on what happens with respect to Ron’s initial desire to emulate his father.

Discussion: The author has produced a fast-paced, well written tale about a likeable young protagonist with unsurpassed strength and fortitude, enjoyably believable friends and a credible plot. Granted, the story’s ending becomes pretty much predictable, but for any reader who appreciates a truly well written ‘feel good story’ this is a thoroughly enjoyable read that one does not want to miss.

5* Thoroughly enjoyable ‘feel-good’ tale not to be missed.